Southern Cameroons Case: PAIN/GCI drag Nigeria to African Commission

People Against Injustice (PAIN) Gambia, and Global Conscience Initiative (GCI) Cameroon, have filed a joint complaint to the African Commission on human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) against the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the latter’s refusal to respect a Federal Court ruling asking her to table the case of the Southern Cameroons before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The African Commission has acknowledged receipt of the complaint in a letter referenced ACHPR/LPROT/COMM/345/NIG/IN stating that the complaint has been registered as “Communication 345/2007” and “will be brought before the African Commission during its 42nd Ordinary Session scheduled to hold in November 2007, in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), for a decision on seizure”.

Global Conscience Chief Executive Officer, Samba Churchill, who signed the complaint on behalf of GCI, said Nigeria was doing grave injustice to the people of the Southern Cameroons, by flouting the decision of her own Federal High Court ordering her to table the Southern Cameroons case at the ICJ and the UN General Assembly.

“Nigeria is a state of law”, Mr. Samba said. “She is also a signatory of the African Charter, and has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and other international treaties guaranteeing and protecting the right to self determination of all peoples.

About 12 Southern Cameroonians had, on February 14, 2002, seized the Federal Court of Nigeria to determine whether Nigeria is not under any legal duty to place before the ICJ and the UN General Assembly, the claim of the peoples of the Southern Cameroons to self determination and their declaration of independence.

The Federal Court quashed a preliminary objection raised by Counsel for the Attorney General of Nigeria and ruled, inter alia, that the Federal High Court of Abuja had jurisdiction to entertain the claim of the Southern Cameroons.

The parties, in the course of the hearing, decided to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution route to amicable settle the claim, and agreed amongst others that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall institute a case before the ICJ, the UN and other international organisations for the determination of the statehood of the peoples of the Southern Cameroons.

On March 5, 2002, the Federal high Court of Abuja, with R.N. Ukeje as Chief Judge and Benson Asogwa as Registrar, made an Enrollment Order and scheduled that Nigeria shall table the Southern Cameroons claim to self determination and independence before the ICJ, the UN and any other international organisations that are competent to hear and determine the claims.

PAIN and GCI frown that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not challenged the decision of the Court but has “failed, neglected or refused” to carry out the orders of the Court.

The complainants hold that Nigeria, by ignoring the Abuja High Court Order, has violated Articles 19, 20(1), (2) and (3) of the African Charter, and thus failed to assist the peoples of the Southern Cameroons in their struggle to liberate themselves from domination, tyranny, subjugation, exploitation, segregation, enslavement, torture and agony, and enslavement.

The complainants, bringing the matter to the African Commission, are praying the Commission to hold the Federal Republic of Nigeria in breach of Articles of the African Charter; to urge Nigeria to fulfill its obligations under Article 20(3) in favour of the Southern Cameroons; to direct Nigeria to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court of Abuja contained in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/30/2002; and “any other such order(s) or such further orders as the Commission may deem fit and proper in the circumstance”.

The plaintiffs maintain that all local remedies have been exhausted as the matter have been settled by the Federal High Court of Abuja, whose decision remains unchallenged.

PAIN is a Gambian-based NGO having observer status with the African Commission, while Global Conscience Initiative is a Cameroon-based independent peace-building organization. The Complaint is signed by Shaka Ceesay (Director of PAIN) and Samba Churchill (Chief Executive Officer of GCI).